Photo: St.Georges College captain Shevon Stewart has recovered from a groin injury and will lead his team against defending champions Jamaica College in the final of the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup.
Defending champions Jamaica College sits in the Last Chance Saloon, facing being shot down by rivals St. Georges College and finishing the senior schoolboy football season empty handed, this as they come face to face with the team that denied them four titles last year. Both teams will meet in a final for the second time in two weeks, this time in the final of the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup competition, today, Saturday November 27th.
Last year, STGC defeated JC in the final of the Walker Cup, denying them a clean sweep of the four trophies on offer, while JC claimed the Manning Cup, Olivier Shield and the first ever, ISSA/FLOW Super Cup title.
St. Georges has already taken the Super Cup trophy from a JC team that failed to make the final of this season’s Walker Cup and is now ready to shut the door on the Miguel Coley team by taking away the Manning Cup title.
If JC fails to win, it would be a huge let down considering the season they had in 2014, when they just about blew away the entire competition.
What 2015 has revealed, is that JC has failed to replace four very important players.
Midfielders Sheldon McKoy and Raffique Bryan, their twin towers, along with strikers Akeem Shackleford and enigmatic captain, Junior Flemmings, have been a great miss. The current players have not been able to maintain the standards set last season.
In the Super Cup final they were weighed, measured and found wanting by STGC and must provide a massive response, after being thrashed 4-0, if they aim to finish the season with silverware. Coley has had enough time to help his players recover mentally from the Super Cup loss, but was not entirely happy with the 4-2 semi-final win over Denham Town high, where their defensive frailties were once again exposed.
Under-performing strikers have been the bane of the JC team this year and it has been left to the midfielder, Donovan Dawkins, to get most of the goals for the True Blue in the latter stages of the season. He along with overlapping left back Donovan Segree have carried a lot of the goal scoring threat for JC, but that won’t prove enough against STGC, as was obvious 14 days ago.
The St. Georges College juggernaut will be hard to contain, as the Light Blues have done what is necessary to be at full strength for the final. Gregory Messam Jr, who was hurt in the Super Cup final, has undergone intensive rehab while sitting out the semi-final of the Manning Cup, in order to be ready for the Corporate Area showpiece final. Messam, captain Shevon Stewart and goal scoring machine Alex Marshall are all expected to report in good order as they seek to wrestle away the trophy that means the most to their coach, Neville ‘Bertis’ Bell.
Marshall has scored every time he has touched the pitch since the second round of the Manning Cup began and his form has already earned him the Super Cup Golden Boot. His 26 goals in all competitions, will make him the focus of Allando Brown and company in the JC defence.
No team has been able to stop STGC from scoring since the second round of the Manning Cup began. They have racked up 29 goals while conceding 7 in all competitions, compared to the record of JC which stands at 12 scored and 6 conceded.
The last eight Manning Cup titles, since 2007, have been shared evenly between the two schools, with JC claiming the last two in 2013 and 2014. Bridgeport High, under the guidance Anthony Patrick, is the last school outside of these two, to win the coveted crown.
Will it be the Light Blues or the True Blue left standing at Sabina Park? The action unfolds starting at 5pm after the third place playoff between Jonathan Grant and Denham Town at 3pm.